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Top Reasons to Travel to Philadelphia

Date January 10, 2024

Top Reasons to Travel to Philadelphia

People visiting The Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

Visiting Philadelphia is a one-of-a-kind experience with many things to do.

Internationally recognized, Philadelphia is one of only eight U.S. destinations to be included in Michelin’s distinguished collection of global guidebooks. And thanks to the city’s arts and culture scene, sprawling park system, and bustling neighborhoods, Philadelphia is an unforgettable destination. Discover the top reasons to travel to Philadelphia and make the city number one on your must-visit list. And don’t forget to check out our Official Visitors Guide.

1. A gateway to the East Coast

Philadelphia is considered one of the premier entry points for those traveling to the East Coast because of its accessibility. As a transatlantic gateway, Philadelphia International Airport offers 29 direct flights to international destinations. Once you land, Center City is a quick 20-minute drive or 25-minute train ride. For those on a multi-destination trip, major U.S. cities such as New York and Washington D.C. are a short drive or train ride away.

2. Home to history

Philadelphia is rich in attractions that tell America’s story. For visitors who are curious about American history there’s no better place than “America’s most historic square mile.” In the Old City historical district, you can walk the same streets and enter the same buildings as America’s Founding Fathers.

At Carpenters’ Hall, visitors can step into the site of the First Continental Congress, where the Founding Fathers met to discuss independence. Nearby, is Independence Hall — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were signed. And, of course, see the iconic Liberty Bell, an international symbol of freedom, at Independence Mall.

Independence Mall is shown. A large lawn of lush green grass is in front of Independence hall. There are people shown standing on the sidewalk taking a picture. The sky above is a light blue with fluffy clouds. There are dark and light green trees lining the outdoor space. There are skyscrapers beyond the historical building.

Independence Mall. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

3. Iconic arts

Art surrounds you in Philadelphia. The city is known for the iconic LOVE and Rocky statues, but there’s much more for visitors to discover. Philadelphia’s affection for art pours into the streets, where visitors can find an incredible outdoor art gallery and over 4,400 murals. For a breathtaking experience, lose yourself in a maze of mosaics at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens along South Street. The mixed media art environment was crafted by mosaic-artist Isaiah Zagar. He uses handmade tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirrors, and international folk-art techniques to chronicle his life and influences in the space.

A woman stands admiring the art around her. She is in a colorful maze full of glittering mosaics. Colorful tiles are placed throughout.

Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Photo by R. Bloom for PHLCVB.

4. World-class museums

Philadelphia is home to incredible museums where visitors can learn, play, and connect with the arts and sciences. Modeled after the Champs-Élysées in Paris, Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway is home to some of the city’s iconic art museums. The Philadelphia Museum of Art‘s collection spans over 2,000 years from the Renaissance to contemporary pieces. Just blocks away, the Rodin Museum stores one of the largest collections of famed sculptor Auguste Rodin’s work outside of Paris. And next door, the Barnes Foundation houses one of the world’s finest private collections of early French-Modern, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings.

Philadelphia is also home to world-class science and history museums. Founded in honor of America’s famed scientist, Benjamin Franklin, The Franklin Institute promotes science education with interactive exhibits. Kids and adults alike can marvel at the stars in the Fels Planetarium or explore the iconic Giant Heart. And for those interested in history, the Penn Museum invites visitors to explore 10,000 years of human existence through artifacts, such as the largest Sphinx in the Western hemisphere.

A woman is shown sitting on a bench to the left, while another woman is shown standing off to the right. They are both in a room surrounded by art, admiring the framed, colorful works hanging on the walls around them.

Photo courtesy of the Barnes Foundation.

5. An acclaimed culinary scene

Thanks to our roster of renowned chefs and restaurateurs, Philadelphia’s dining scene is exceptional. From the New York Times to Bon Appetit, critics have lauded Philadelphia’s chef-driven culinary scene as one of the best in the world. Restaurants from James Beard Award winners — Michael Solomonov, Greg Vernick, Marc Vetri, and Ellen Yin, to name a few — serve unforgettable meals. Or try a taste of Philadelphia at the historic Reading Terminal Market, home to over 80 local vendors.

A pink table full of Mediterranean dishes.

Laser Wolf. photo by Michael Persico

6. Performing arts

Considered a top theater city in the U.S., Philadelphia boasts a rich community of esteemed performing arts organizations. Ensemble Arts Philly is home to many legendary performing arts organizations, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philadelphia Ballet, and Opera Philadelphia. And the historical Walnut Street Theater is the oldest operating theater in America. The city is also full of new artists premiering ground-breaking works. Visitors can see these performances at centers for emerging artists, such as FringeArts and Penn Live Arts.

7. The great outdoors

As the most walkable city in the United States, Philadelphia is the perfect destination for travelers looking to spend time outdoors. Philadelphia’s park system spans over 10,000 acres and has over 270 miles of recreational trails, offering numerous outdoor adventures. Nature lovers can hike through Fairmount Park or Wissahickon Valley Park. For those who prefer a water view, the Delaware River Trail offers access to several piers and pop-up parks. On the other side of the city, admire more spectacular waterfront views on the Schuylkill River Trail.

Three hikers walk through a lush green forest.

Fairmount Park

8. Tax-free shopping

Clothing and shoe purchases are tax-free in Philadelphia, making it a prime place to go shopping. Visitors will find international brands and locally owned boutiques in neighborhoods across the city. For one-stop shopping, head to the Fashion District Philadelphia in Center City. Or to scratch every shopping itch, make your way to the countryside, where over 400 retailers await at the King of Prussia Mall.

9. One-of-a-kind communities

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods. Each one has a unique set of restaurants, shops, and experiences inspired by cultures from around the globe. In South Philadelphia, visitors can seamlessly transition from the restaurants to the locally owned boutiques that line East Passyunk Avenue. Or head north for the chic cafes, bars, and colorful street art that fill trendy neighborhoods Fishtown and Northern Liberties.

Enjoy luxury shops and restaurants in picturesque Rittenhouse Square or Washington Square West — home to the city’s Gayborhood. And over in West Philadelphia, the campuses of prestigious universities quickly give way to a close-knit community tucked along tree-lined streets. Every neighborhood has its own culture and atmosphere, making a visit to each feel like an adventure in a new place.

Several shoppers visit the crowded Italian Market and buy various fruits and vegetables from the stands.

The Italian Market

The City of Philadelphia is ready to welcome you. Check out our Plan Your Trip page for more information on hotels, transportation, and things to do.